etch

mirroredsky

(Scripture: Revelation 21:1-7, 22-27)

These little lights of ours,
Candles, lit on the darkest days of the year,
Shining through the frosty haze on window panes:
These are antidotes to our doubts and fears,
These are hopeful sparks of a far future,
Etched in flame in mirror skies,
Called by His name, as we are.
Dawn will see us rise.
Do you hear what I hear?
“He is near,” The cosmos cries.

This City is our Home,
Made bright by the Begotten, leading Born Ones in His train.
He who was lit by starlight,
Is the Illuminating Sun.
He who was flanked by shepherds
Now shepherds everyone.
He who cried for Mary’s touch
Now wipes tears from our view.
He who once was fresh in flesh
Is making all things new.

Citizens and faithful ones,
Your names are known by God with us.
His dwelling place is here,
So that He can draw you near.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
As you have sewn love into the fabric of creation,
Etch hope into the walls of our hearts.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Suggested Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

strain

crackedpot

(Scripture: Hebrews 4:14-16)

We are weak.
And our weakness, as winter wind,
Cuts to the bone
And divides us asunder.
We know where we’re grown,
From soil on a planet infected with sin,
The stuff of Satan injected within our broken beating hearts.
Skin-shells are but the start.

You are weak,
Christ-babe, Christ-child,
Christ-teen, Christ-man.
In every season of growth plagued
By the very dust of skin and bone,
Earthy human: as us, for us, with
Head that knew fear,
Hands that knew strain,
Heart that knew love, so
Heaven could know pain.

Persevering Priest,
Place your scarred hands in ours,
Place your scarred self in hearts,
Tempt us anew with Your Divine-Human self,
That through all our Christmases, calendar and within,
Your sanctity and empathy would be reborn in skin.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
You were injured, so that we might be healed.
You endured pain, so that we might enjoy peace.
You bore the strain of human existence, so that we might rest eternally.
You died, so that we might live.
You are worthy; all praise and honor and glory to you!
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Once in Royal David’s City

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

clothe

robestudy

(Scripture: Colossians 3:1-14)

We used to walk
In the ways of the broken
And stand in sin-riddled spaces
And sit in old-self places.
We used to leave love unspoken…
Church,
Kill it, murder the earth in you, the old self, the cold stiff soul of you.
He came with so much more, for you.

Look up,
To a sky packed with angels,
To a star drawing wise men,
To the Baby born and died, now risen and enthroned on high,
To the things unexplainable that are not impossible with God.

Clothe yourself in Him,
(As He slipped into your skin)
In righteous raiment, not of rules,
But of royal, gentle, patient love.
Bear with your brothers and sisters,
Their burdens, their brokenness,
For you are not rich or poor,
Male or female,
Old or young,
But one in Christ.

Christ,
Be born in our everyday Christmas lives,
As you were on that holy Christmas night.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
Cause us to shed…
The garments of greed, gluttony, and gain.
The apparel of apathy, insensitivity, and indifference.
The attire of anger, hatred, and rage.
And to clothe ourselves with you.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Joy to the World, The Lord Is Come!

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

burst

advent9a(Scripture: John 1:1-14)

I am a broken word,
And how broken must I be
To continually break after you’ve set me?
Or is it that I see the cracks of my past, the scars of ceramic skin,
Gleaming fine in your Light
And name myself naught but broken?
I am not mine to name.

I am broken til You Break.
I am unspoken til You Speak.

Nestle your Word
Into little broken words,
As into little broken skin,
Among little broken birds,
Yes, You made Your dwelling not just among,
But within.
And a sparrow will not fall but that You see it.

Word,
Speak from the very mouth of God,
That as Everlasting Light draws near
Our cracked frames would reverberate
In sonic salvation.
That by your ceramic scars our
Brokenness bursts asunder,
In petrichor praise,
And birth-blood thunder.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
Pop the balloon of our self-righteousness,
Burst the bubble of our self-sufficiency.
Blow into us your Spirit of Truth,
That our mouths might explode with praise for you.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss

kiss

advent8

(Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12)

Gather your mighty
And come, you nations.
This is He who is
Mightier than armies,
Jealous as the deep,
Our all-consuming fire,
And it’s time for His diaper change.

Offer your gifts
And wonder, all people.
This is He who is
Gentle as a morning rain,
Merciful as sleep,
Affectionate as the kiss,
See Him discover His toes.

Bow down before Him,
And worship, you kings,
He is
Brighter than galaxies of suns,
More terrible than time,
Enduring as eternity; see!
He drools as He brings in teeth.

By your grace, O Christ,
May we
Crown Your cradle cap with gold,
Anoint Your angel’s kiss with incense,
Prepare Your chubby body for burial,
And kiss your tiny toes.
This is baby God:
Overcome us with Your paradox,
Overjoy us in Your presence.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
In you, love and faithfulness meet together;
Righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Draw us to you this day.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: As with Gladness

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

plunge

advent7

(Scripture: Luke 2:8-20)

Terrify us with joy,
As you did some random shepherds once.
They never saw it coming – this sudden plunge of golden light,
Heaven’s gotcha moment.

“Boo! HA! Guess what? He’s here.
But seriously, don’t be afraid.
There is no moral checklist
Or theological expertise needed
To party hard at the break of Good News.”

There’s glee in doxology
And rhythm in righteousness.
Willing hearts will always dance.

Bring us the flash and shout
Of such joy this season
In the parties of the wintertime,
In hilarity and warmth,
In eruptions of flavor and color,
In hideous old sweaters,
In cherished, stupid traditions,
And off-tune carols sung from happy and heavy hearts united:

That we would forget our pain for a moment and would see beyond it,
And ache for heavenly revelry:
Festivity-splendor and feasting forever.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
Plunge into our world anew.
Reveal your light and your life to all.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

squall

advent6

(scripture: Luke 2:1-7)

The entrance is painful, then quiet.
The quiet of a normal night,
With rustling here and there,
Mice in the hay, blood on the floor,
And the muffled exhaustion of the after-birth.

It was political red tape that brought them to this place,
And a raw-boned ride on a donkey.
It was commuter traffic and out-of-town guests.
And it was warmer among the animals than it was outside.

We like to think she had help, besides the fumbling murmurs of her husband.
We like to think the rags were clean.
We don’t like to think about problems with breastfeeding,
Or the possibility of tearing and infection,
Or the first sleepless night.

Let us ponder, we who are born of women,
The miracles of
A safe pregnancy,
A healthy baby,
Enough to eat,
The warmth of animals,
A hug, or a back rub,
And the breath of a slumbering infant.

You still work in our weakness,
Molding miracles out of mess,
Wrapping gifts in skin.

Gift-Giver,
We are grateful.
For the tiny, squalling Gift
That shook the world to its core.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
To this world of storms, squalls, tempests, and gales,
To this world of anger, conflict, violence, and war,
Give your peace.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Angels from the Realms of Glory

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

stifle

advent5

(Scripture: Luke 1:26-38)

It’s a wonder Mary didn’t laugh,
Like Sarah at 90 and change,
Or didn’t doubt you, like Moses, Gideon, Zechariah…
The list is long and my name is on it.

Maybe Mary wondered at this,
Your Son brewing in a virgin womb,
But you didn’t strike her mute for the ask.
Maybe she needed her voice for the magnificent.

The Impossible God makes it so,
By flesh and bone and skin and teeth,
In humans so human it hurts.
Human-Lover, reign without end
With high favor we cannot conceive,
With us.
Or
Silence us by your acts
And stifle our speech with your overshadow.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
Stifle any doubt within us,
Stifle any despair within us.
Give us confidence in your power and your love.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: What Child Is This

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

spill

advent4

(Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9)

Our place is with lambs and lions,
Paradox and peace,
Written into the world by your very Word.
This mountain of the Lord,
Where virgins give birth,
Where wise men bow to infants
and tyrants are foiled by them,
Where kings sleep in barns.

And us.
Stained and broken,
The refuse of barn floors and feed troughs
(Straw and dung)
Exalted to royalty by spilt blood and new birth,
Made clean,
Made holy, by the Infant lowly.

We are refuse made to rest,
As did your downy head on manger-breast.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
For us you emptied yourself.
For us your blood was spilt.
May we respond in thanks and praise,
May we respond in love and service.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

flicker

advent3

(Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7)

From the pit you ordain praise,
And light lifts up our heads, like gates
Revealed: unveiled faces,
Bent, upward to your Word.

We light candles and flicker in the black,
Wavering pinpricks during the darkest of the year.
You too once lit a candle, a smoldering wick of a Boy,
Who fell into hell
And set the world on fire.

Purest Zealot,
Counsel us in this Wonder,
Baptize us in this Peace,
Educate us in your Might, and
Govern us in the weight of this Glory.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
May our lives be a reflection of your radiance.
May our feeble flicker lead others to your glorious light
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst